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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

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546              .              LIFE OF
that a man was required for this post who was himself
penetrated by the intellectual genius of the nation,
-and thus capable of leading and inspiring the intel-
lectual forces of the country—in short, one who
could give an impulse to this branch of government,
as Stein and Scharnhorst did to the others. And such
.a man was found in Humboldt.
The selection of Humboldt for this post cannot be
enough praised, for one more fitted to direct on the
wide field of popular instruction could scarcely be
imagined. It has been asked whether he was equally
.fitted for the post of minister of public worship, and
a word on this subject may not be out of place here.
IsTo one can know anything of Humboldt, nor have
glanced  at any of his writings, who doubts whether
religion was in him or not.    It is, however, true that
,his religious opinions were a little removed from, posi-
tive Christianity; whether it be that he objected to
the outward form of Christianity, or that he feared to
lose his intellectual freedom and independent nature
by entire submission to  it.    He, on this point, very
•much resembled the great literary men of that period,
-and although it cannot be said that he was bound by
the fetters of the eighteenth ceBtury, he must in this
respect   be acknowledged its faithful   pupil.     Hum-
boldt's   characteristic   motto    was   "All   knowledge
leads to God/*    But, in obedience to his own  soul,
lie might have added,  cc All natural feeling also leads
to Him/*    For   although his  being was so  entirely
intellectual, natural feeling was, withal, a marked fea-
ture  of  his  character.     None of the  philosophical
systems of the age was capable of entirely satisfying
Ms requirements in this direction ; and he was de-
terred from joining the subsequent developments of
this science, as much, by his just and natural mode of
thought, as by the warmth of his heart, and the pe-
netrating quality of his mind.    He was not a mere
theist, and not a pantheist.    The belief in the exist-
ence of God, in an all-wise Providence, in the indivi-
dual immortality of the sotil, was firmly planted in